Monhegan Island researching my novel. Off season the mail boat goes only a few times a week from Port Clyde. It was a rough one hour ride in eight-foot seas and pouring rain. Even one of the crew got sick, but my husband was in his element. Henry's father, a former merchant navy captain, once told him that the best cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree. Henry (in orange topside) had come for the weekend to help me settle into my solitary retreat.
The only other visitors to the island were migrating birds (loads of warblers!) and intrepid birders. Their accommodations were unheated and unpowered. The tourist season starts Memorial Day Weekend and runs through September. The rest of the year is lobster season.
I rented an attic apartment in a former boat house, which had propane, electricity and even wifi. My landlady, who lives below, runs the only grocery store and is the sternwoman on a lobster boat. Most of the 40 or so year-round residents work two jobs. Lisa answered many of my questions about island life.
Other answers came from watching the harbor out my window. I'd wondered how trucks got to the island since only passenger ferries service the island, docking at the wharf. This truck ferry unloads onto Fish Beach. It idles until the truck is ready to leave. Good thing I packed ear plugs!
I watched the lobstermen without leaving my desk. One of my characters works the stern in his dad's lobster boat. He lives on an island that resembles Monhegan but with a larger population. I needed more teen characters in a young adult novel!
I'd wondered about the one-room school house on other visits to the island. This time I wanted to peek inside, but I'd had no luck tracking down the teacher online.
After my husband left the island, I hiked up the cliff to paint...
... the beautiful landscape?
Feeling discouraged, I decided to check out the new Monhegan Brewing Company. The delicious beer was served in seven ounce tasters as well as in pints. It was full bodied and smooth. My favorite was the Trap Stacker Special Ale with a hint of molasses. By happy coincidence, I ran into an author friend Paul Doiron and met his wife Kristen Lindquist, an avid birder and talented poet-blogger. The whole state of Maine sometimes feels like a small town.
|Mary and Matt Weber of Monhegan Brewing Company|
The proprietors shared their romantic story. Mary had moved to Monhegan after falling in love with Matt Weber, an island lobsterman. They'd opened the brewery last summer, offering tastings on weekends. On weekdays Mary teaches at the one-room school house while her husband is hauling lobsters. I'd found my elusive school teacher! It's Mary's last year teaching since she needs more time for the brewery. Matt answered my questions about island lobstering.
|Island educators Mary Weber and Jessie Campbell|
At Lobster Cove I photographed the house that was the inspiration for my character's home, although his is more modest. It's my dream house too. Can you see why this island inspires me?
Back "home," I watched storm clouds ripple the sea. The weather wasn't the best for painting watercolors, but I took many photos. I'll share the artsy ones in another post. I miss the island already.